All May, here in A Rooted Home, we are exploring the stunning and transformative power of grace in the series, An Invitation to Grace. Rebecca Radicchi shares her story next in our series. Rebecca is a writer, medical and adoptive mom, cancer survivor, and hope*writer. She lives outside Atlanta, where the summers are hot and the tea is sweet, with her husband and for children. In between folding clothes, cups of English breakfast tea, and handfuls of dark chocolate almonds, she’s a storyteller and advocate for vulnerable children for Love Without Boundaries and Georgia Kids Belong.
Rebecca is such an amazing woman, I am excited for you to get to know her better. Join me in warmly welcoming Rebecca to our kitchen table today as she highlights the beautiful grace that happens on the other side of surrender.
Guest post by Rebecca Radicchi
I’d be ready, of that I was certain. I was too scared not to be.
As soon as we signed our application to adopt from China, I started gearing myself up to be an adoptive mom. The Lord led us to it, so I grabbed a bucket of bravery and prepared to love our girl well. I read books, dissected adoptive mom blogs, attended conferences, soaked in wisdom from our social worker’s training, and prayed that God would equip us. Along the way, we fell in love with a little girl in a picture. Before we even held her, I fastened on my super mom cape. I’d be ready. Adoption involved too much trauma and loss not to be. I needed to be trained in attachment and handling her questions about birth parents, loss of culture, abandonment, and how medical needs or gender might have played a role. I’d be the mom she’d need.
I heard Isaiah 58:11 paraphrased, whatever God brings you to, He’ll prepare you for. Trusting in that preparation brought comfort. God was asking something big of me and if He was asking it, He’d help me handle it, right?
By the time our bags for China were packed with diapers and toy stacking cups, I was loaded with newly gleaned wisdom, attachment techniques, and prayers. I was ready to protect our daughter’s heart. I hoped my words would be magically healing, all-comforting, all-everything. I girded up to follow the rules for attachment and bonding to seamlessly transition her from childhood in an orphanage to a beloved daughter.
Then the day we dreamed of came. In a conference room in Chengdu, China, she was placed in our arms. And our beautiful, new, almond-eyed, daughter took one frightened look at us, sensed the fault line that was forming, and reached desperately for the safety of her nanny. She broke out in a sweat, sobbed, and passed out cold. Sleep was her trauma response.
My heart shattered for her. Her reaction shook me. The moment I’d romanticized was yet another traumatic moment for her. And as I looked into those little scared eyes, I saw it instantly. This was beyond me. All of it.
She was engulfed in fear and a torrent of emotions began building in me. My inadequate smallness hit me before we walked out of her orphanage. How could I fly her “home” away from the life she was born into? How could she heal from the trauma? How could she attach to a stranger?
Back in our hotel room, we were a messy bunch. As she continued her stunned cries, my self-doubts bubbled wildly up. I begged God to show me how to care for my distraught daughter in her grief, how to solve it. And He did. He took away all options. There, in a tiny space in a giant city on the other side of the world from our comfort zones, all my husband and I could do was be near and hold her when she’d let us. God shifted me from control mode to tender, moment-to-moment responses. To surrender.
In His great grace, as I began to breathe, she did too.
At some point, I realized that that was it. That was what was asked of us. To simply hold her close while she grieves. To love her. To look into her eyes with a heart-wide-open kind of love trying only to understand her feelings and her fears. To make her feel safe.
Maybe all my striving was misplaced. My English words were useless anyway. Surrender and trust in my Father was the best and only way.
Those first days were hard. She didn’t know us, and we didn’t know her. Panic popped up often. But waving our white flags of surrender brought life-giving grace. Being informed and sensitive adoptive parents is a must, but being the healer is impossible.
Our girl is 12 now and when I try to solve her hurts, tidy up her hard questions, and say the right words, God nudges me back to those first days together. The only one who can help her process her loss-filled story is Him.
The beauty is that being beyond ourselves, in discovering our lack, is a grace-soaked place to be with God. We can never be ready. We’ll always come up short for our kids. Our flesh and hearts will always fail. So, what else is there to do but hold out our humble cups and receive?
One of God’s many graces is that the responsibility is never all mine. When I know my place and God’s, I’m more of the mom she needs. The one who holds her. The one who listens without judgment and speaks without solving.
In His kindness, it’s all a double blessing. The healing that He offers our kids is there for our taking too. He’s near, holding us both.
Mommas, do you have burdens to lay down too? Some that aren’t yours to carry?
If you’re weary from striving, from clawing for the right words and actions to help your hurting kids consider where God might want you to expend that energy. Where is He calling for surrender?
Isaiah 58:11 actually promises, If God brings you to it; HE will bring you through it! HE’s the one doing the bringing. There’s a shower of grace we can stand under.
Thank you for sharing your grace-soaked story with us, Rebecca. For more of Rebecca’s work, visit her blog where she writes to nudge YOU to chase after the wonder and beauty in life’s salty sweetness. You can also find Rebecca on Instagram.